Everyone knows the obvious when it comes to beating brain fog—get enough sleep, keep stress at bay, and stop polishing off a Costco-size box of Oreos. If you nonetheless find yourself consistently trying to shake some seriously tired, restless, and/or forgetful vibes, your diet may be to blame. We’re not talk about what you are eating, but what you’re possibly not eating. With that in mind we turned to leading wellness experts and asked them to give us the lowdown on the foods and supplements that can help kick brain fog to the curb.
Tea and L-theanine
“Black, oolong and green tea all contain the amino acid theanine, which crosses the blood brain barrier and brings on a mental calmness, yet alertness,” say The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT. “This allows you to not only be more rationale, but to focus better as well.” If you’re looking to take L-Theanine in a more concentrated dose (studies have shown that an effective dosage is around 100-200mg and a cup of tea has around 20-30mg), many supplements include it.
We all know that coffee can make us more alert, but the sweet spot is no more than four five-ounce cups a day (300mg of caffeine). “This can lower the rate of mild cognitive impairment, possibly helping keep brain fog at bay,” say The Nutrition Twins. “The antioxidants in coffee can help to fight against free radical damage and keep brain cells healthy, while caffeine in coffee may boost short term memory and boost brain power.” If you’re not a coffee drinker, caffeine supplements are also an option. “Moderate caffeine use can improve mental focus and fight mental fatigue, helping to fight brain fog—a typical over-the-counter caffeine tablet is 200 mg— but be careful, you don’t want to overdo it (some supplements provide 500mg in one tablet),” say The Nutrition Twins. “If you get too much this can negatively impact brain fog by making it hard to concentrate, making you irritable, anxious, and restless.”
We all know the waist-slimming effects of berries, but blueberries are particularly potent, and have also been shown to boost brain power. According to The Nutrition Twins, blueberries slow mental decline and improve memory and focus. “Oxidative stress accelerates the brain’s aging process and leads to brain fog; the potent antioxidants found in blueberries fight this and fend off age-related conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
Vitamin B5 and Magnesium
“Many patients have adrenal exhaustion due to chronic stress, in which case vitamin B5 supplementation (well documented to support adrenal function) or magnesium (a mineral essential to relaxation) can be helpful,” says nutritionist Dr. Charles Passler.
Brain fog-busting turmeric has been on the rise all year, popping up everywhere from savory dishes to lattes, and for good reason! “It’s high in omega-3 making it a super brain food!” exclaims founder and CEO of Lumi, Hillary Lewis. “It has been linked to helping patients who suffer from ADHD and Alzheimer’s gain better short-term memory and concentration.” You can also opt for it in supplement form. Dr. Passler says he opts for this recommendation when a patient has a diet high in food additives like MSG. “I’ll introduce my patients to an absorbable form of turmeric supplementation that’s backed by some recent research due to its ability to reduce inflammation in the brain.”
“Ginger helps fight brain fog because it reduces inflammation, which is critical for healthy metabolism of essential nutrients that help with memory,” says Lewis.
These bright vegetables help with blood flow, which is important for proper elimination. “A lot of time, we have brain fog as a result of foods that we consumed, so we need to release the body of toxins and excess sodium, which beets help to do,” explains Lewis.
NAC or Sulforaphane
“If a client is dealing with a long list of environmental toxins, I’ll recommend nutrient supplementation that increases your liver’s ability to process and excrete toxins, from the environment, out of the body,” says Dr. Passler. “Whether it’s a sensitivity to the fumes from your local nail salon or pesticides you spray to kill insects, taking nutrients to improve liver detoxification, like N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) or sulforaphane, can help to get the toxins out of your system faster and reduce related brain fog.” You can find sulforaphane in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbages.
According to The Nutrition Twins, sardines are a great afternoon pick-me-up because they provide fatty acids which have been shown to reduce inflammation and maintain proper brain function, lower the risk of dementia, improve focus, and memory. “Try adding sardines to salads and sandwiches – and if sardines aren’t your thing, try salmon—it too is a good source of fatty acids.” And of course, you can get your fatty acids through fish oil supplements if you’re not eating enough fish to help with brain fog.
Possibly the easiest and most overlooked thing to do is drink more water. You should be getting at least two liters a day. “When a person becomes dehydrated (and many of us walk around in a dehydrated state without even knowing it!), your brain tissue actually shrinks!” exclaim the Nutrition Twins. “Dehydration negatively impacts focus, decision making and short-term memory.”
Are you struggling with brain fog? Have you tried any of these foods and supplements?